October is finally here which means I am eager to get ready for the next growing season, including putting some money aside to pay the rent! I can’t believe another year as an allotment holder has flown by so quickly.
It’s been a mixed growing year with it’s fair share of failures and occasional successes. A week ago I picked my first courgettes and summer squash. Although they are still growing, I am not hopeful they will get beyond finger size.
It’s with a heavy heart and a logical brain that I’ve decided to scale back to half a plot. A full plot proved too much work for me. Whilst others may manage a full plot working full-time, I’ve found it a little overwhelming. I am also easily distracted and have a few other hobbies I want to pursue on my weekends 😉
I would advise any newbie allotmenteer to start with half a plot rather than a full one. Allotments are often larger than most gardens and more earth + less lawn = lots of work and a lot of weeding! Although clearing a bed of weeds can be very therapeutic, it can also be disheartening when (not if) the weeds win. Half a plot is more manageable for the weekend gardener, and you can still get a huge variety of fresh produce (which I will hopefully illustrate) with some smart planting. I’ve been an allotment holder now for a few years, and I have seen lots of newbies take on a large plot, spend weeks digging, and then never return! It just doesn’t make sence. I think people lose heart, when they realise how much work is required.
Luckily my allotment neighbour was also thinking of down-sizing so I managed to persuade him to take over the other half of my plot. We are going to split the allotment lengthways, keeping the sheds at the bottom in an attempt to hold back the brambles which grow beyond the fence. Having the full length works as there is a central path. It also meant I didn’t have to move my compost bins, which would have been backbreaking work.
In preparation for downsizing I’ve moved my herb bed, and all the perennials I wanted to keep such as globe artichokes, strawberries and gooseberries. My raspberries struggled after my last move, so I will buy some new plants in the spring. I’m not sure its the best time of year to be moving plants, but I’ve tried my best to bed them in before any frosts take hold.
Unfortunately in my eagerness to move a blackcurrant bush I accidentally destroyed the home of this mouse, and killed one of its babies! The mouse, ignoring me, desperately searched for its babies. I really hope they didn’t all die. I wrapped the dead mouse in a leaf and buried it in the herb bed, and left the bush to one side whilst the mouse found a safer place to be. So much for mindfulness whilst gardening. It has reminded me that I share this space with others, and need to tread/dig more carefully from now on.
Moving full-grown plants did have one advantage. It allowed me to plan the spacing of each plant as well as the overall structure of the bed. In the old bed some herbs, such as hyssop and thyme fought for space alongside plants such as sage, and St John’s Wort.
I can’t wait until next summer to see each herb in flower. Most of these herbs were chosen for their medicinal benefits – although I’ve not really used them much for that purpose, I’ve always intended to do so. Weeding an aromatic herb bed is a joyous experience.
Next weekend I will build another raised bed, and move over the last of the plants. Heres to a another year of growing my own fruit and veg 🙂